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Friday, March 8, 2013

Liberty’s Big Three: Celebrating International Women’s Day

Would Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand appreciate being honored on International Woman’s Day? All had a sense of irony, so here goes.

International Woman’s Day was established by collectivists in the early twentieth century as part of a socialist labor movement in Europe. So what did the big three above think about such movements? Consider this from Jim Powell:

They dared to declare that collectivism was evil. They stood up for natural rights, the only philosophy which provided a moral basis for opposing tyranny everywhere. They celebrated old-fashioned rugged individualism.

Why else should we honor them?

They envisioned a future when people could again be free. They expressed a buoyant optimism, which was to inspire millions.

All were outsiders who transcended difficult beginnings. Two were immigrants. One was born in frontier territory not yet part of the United States. They struggled to earn money as writers in commercial markets dominated by ideological adversaries. All were broke at one time or another. They endured heartaches with men—one stayed in a marriage which became sterile, and two became divorced and never remarried.

These women who had such humble beginnings—Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand—published major books during the same year, 1943: The Discovery of FreedomThe God of the Machine, and The Fountainhead, respectively. The women, recalled journalist John Chamberlain, “with scornful side glances at the male business community, had decided to rekindle a faith in an older American philosophy. There wasn’t an economist among them. And none of them was a Ph.D.” Albert Jay Nock declared that, “They make all of us male writers look like Confederate money. They don’t fumble and fiddle around—every shot goes straight to the centre.”

In a fine tradition of referring to collectivism as evil and of honoring women who fought for liberty, you could do worse than to dust off some Lane, Paterson, and Rand.

For more on ladies of liberty, check out Wendy McElroy’s review of Ladies of Liberty.

  • The Freeman is the flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education and one of the oldest and most respected journals of liberty in America. For more than 50 years it has uncompromisingly defended the ideals of the free society.